Rams News: Wade Phillips Confident Micah Kiser Can Handle Expanded Role On Defense

Although it is hard to imagine the Los Angeles Rams becoming any better, the only area that could and is expected to improve this season is their defense. This offseason, the team has taken steps to solidify that unit.

Adding defensive veterans Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle should help, but the Rams are also hoping to build within. One potential answer could be 2018 fifth-round draft pick Micah Kiser.

The linebacker mainly played on special teams during his rookie seasom, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said that he plans on Kiser returning to his linebacker position and getting more time on defense this season, via Myles Simmons of TheRams.com:

“I think for where he is in his career and where we need him, it’ll be in those first and second-down plays for sure,” Phillips said of Kiser’s role during the offseason program. “Cory is such a good coverage guy and then we’ve got a lot of safeties that can come in and help us on third downs, so I think his main role certainly right now will be first and second down as a base defensive player.”

Kiser played linebacker for the University of Virginia for four years before being drafted by the Rams. With Mark Barron leaving in free agency, that leaves a starting spot up for grabs.

Kiser finished his NCAA career by finishing fourth in total tackles across the entire nation. Although special teams may not be where you want a player of that defensive prowess, Kiser still excelled as a rookie. He ended up finishing fourth on the Rams list of snaps played with the special teams.

Phillips believes that Kiser’s experience with the special teams will translate well into a bigger defensive role:

“Micah showed a lot of things last year, he came in, you always have high hopes I think, and he basically only got to play special teams. He was one of our best special teamers — you know Cory Littleton also went that path too, and turned out to be really good backer, and I think Micah is going in the same direction,” Phillips said. “When they show things, they show the ability to get to the football on special teams and they carry it over to defense and he moves well, he’s a smart player, and he’s had a really good spring. He’s fit in really well.”

Cory Littleton was a breakout player for the Rams last season, and the hope is that they will find a similar route of success for Kiser. The Rams released their first unofficial depth chart on Monday, and Kiser was listed as their starting inside linebacker.

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